Editorial: It’s our problem
The latest state report shows that Gloucester County reported a recycling rate of 28 percent for 2011. Mathews County is part of a regional system that reported a 32.3 percent rate; no breakdown came for Mathews alone.
This is better perhaps than the old days when everything went into the trash, and when all the trash was either thrown into the woods, burned in a barrel, or tossed onto the county dump.
There are efforts, at least, to keep the volume down.
So, why is it not down more?
Because our government still makes it too easy to use and toss. People are lazy. Even with recycling containers in the next room, they would rather throw their aluminum soda can or plastic water bottle in the trash can next to their chair.
There was a time that bottlers paid for returns of their containers. A time that most shopping bags were paper and degradable, not plastic and forever. A time that people valued thrift and reuse.
While it is relatively easy now, if people so desire, to recycle newspapers, magazines, office papers, cans and bottles, there remains a scarcity of ways to get rid of those plastic bags. Some stores accept them. Many trash centers do not.
Some places have put taxes on the plastic bags or banned them altogether. Not Virginia. The bags proliferate like rabbits. They adorn roadside trees. They are probably ingested by wildlife with great harm.
Today we give a shout-out to the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School and Rappahannock Community College, which recently sponsored "Plastic Bag Awareness Week" and gathered, we hope, thousands of the critters. At the same time they took up their collection, the bag manufacturers probably produced millions more.
America loves quick and easy. Use and toss is but one example. Until laissez-faire legislators get serious about eliminating disposables from the consumer stream, it will be up to the individual to recycle. We create the problem, and it is up to us to solve it.